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Tuesday, October 28, 2008
McCain's Conundrum, Distancing Himself From a GOP That Defines Him
By Gary Kimaya in Slate
Here is the link: http://www.salon.com/opinion/kamiya/2008/10/28/gop_shipwreck/index.html
Some conservatives have tried to argue that Bush betrayed true conservatism by running up a ruinous deficit and expanding entitlement programs like Medicare. They compare him unfavorably to Ronald Reagan, modern conservatism's patron saint. But this revisionism gets the historical record wrong.
The truth is that Saint Reagan expanded entitlements, grew the federal government -- including a $165 million bailout of Social Security -- and raised taxes. The right-wing myth of Reagan as an anti-government, anti-tax purist is just that: a myth. The same is true for his anti-Communism. Reagan talked a tough game, calling the USSR an "evil empire" and rattling his saber, but usually behaved pragmatically. When his ill-considered intervention in Lebanon failed, he wisely pulled U.S. troops out. In short, Reagan's ideology and his practice were often at odds.
The dirty little secret of modern conservativism is that Bush is more like "Reagan" -- the mythical Reagan, that is -- than Reagan himself ever was.
Bush actually did what Reagan just said he was going to: He cut taxes for the wealthy, handed over the keys to the economy to corporate interests and deregulated everything in sight. His most glaring and destructive imitation of the mythical Reagan was his catastrophic decision to invade Iraq. Fatally, Bush really believed his own Churchillian rhetoric. He decided the fight against Islamist terrorism was an epochal showdown of good vs. evil -- and unlike Reagan, he proceeded to act militarily on this grandiose belief. (Yes, Reagan illegally tried to overthrow the Nicaraguan regime, but the Iran/Contra scandal that tainted his legacy wouldn't even make the Top Ten list of Bush's misdeeds.)
This is why, to this day, the Republican Party and the mainstream right wing has never repudiated Bush. (To their credit, "Paleoconservatives" like Pat Buchanan and right-libertarians like Ron Paul and Antiwar's Justin Raimondo broke with Bush on Iraq, but they are marginal figures on the right.) How can conservatives repudiate someone who put into practice all of their most cherished ideas? To criticize Bush on substantive grounds, they'd have to explain not only why his policies violated conservative orthodoxy, but why they never once made that argument for the last eight years.
They can't do either, which is why they are forced to take the evasive, intellectually dishonest line of blaming Bush's failures on his arrogance and incompetence. Of course Bush was arrogant and incompetent, but those shortcomings don't explain his failed presidency. He failed because he acted on the extreme right-wing ideas that Reagan only paid lip service to.
The right wing is running as far away as it can get from Bush, but it still shares his beliefs. That's why it [and John McCain] cannot and will not muster any real arguments against his policies.
link | posted by Jae at 11:39 AM |
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